Dictionary of Art and Artists



 

 


History of

Architecture and Sculpture

 
 

 

 
 

 
 

CONTENTS:

 
 

PART ONE
THE ANCIENT WORLD
PREHISTORIC ART
EGYPTIAN ART

ANCIENT NEAR EASTERN ART
AEGEAN ART
GREEK ART
ETRUSCAN ART
ROMAN ART
EARLY CHRISTIAN AND BYZANTINE ART

PART TWO
THE MIDDLE AGES
EARLY MEDIEVAL ART
ROMANESQUE ART
GOTHIC ART

PART THREE
THE RENAISSANCE THROUGH THE ROCOCO
LATE GOTHIC
THE EARLY RENAISSANCE IN ITALY
THE HIGH RENAISSANCE IN ITALY
MANNERISM AND OTHER TRENDS
THE RENAISSANCE IN THE NORTH
THE BAROQUE IN ITALY AND SPAIN
THE BAROQUE IN FLANDERS AND HOLLAND
THE BAROQUE
THE ROCOCO

PART FOUR
THE MODERN WORLD
NEOCLASSICISM AND ROMANTICISM
REALISM AND IMPRESSIONISM
POST-IMPRESSIONISM, SYMBOLISM, AND ART NOUVEAU

PART FIVE
TWENTIETH-CENTURY
TWENTIETH-CENTURY SCULPTURE
TWENTIETH-CENTURY ARCHITECTURE


INDEX
FIGURES
 

 
 

 
 

CHAPTER ONE
 

NEOCLASSICISM AND ROMANTICISM
 

NEOCLASSICISM
PAINTING
SCULPTURE and ARCHITECTURE- Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

THE ROMANTIC MOVEMENT
PAINTING
SCULPTURE and ARCHITECTURE - Part1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20

PHOTOGRAPHY
 

 


THE ROMANTIC MOVEMENT


SCULPTURE

In attempting to define Romanticism in sculpture, we are immediately struck by one rather extraordinary fact: in contrast to the abundance of theoretical writings that accompanied Neoclassical sculpture from Winckelmann on, there exists only one piece of writing that sets forth a general theory of sculpture from the Romantic point of view: Baudelaire's essay of 1846, "Why Sculpture is Boring," which occupies only a few pages of his long review of the Salon of that year. Actually, Baudelaire is less concerned with the state of French sculpture at that moment, which strikes him as deplorable, than he is with the limitations of sculpture as a medium. To him, there can be no such thing as Romantic sculpture because every piece of sculpture is to him a "fetish" whose objective existence prevents the artist from making it a vehicle of his subjective view of the world, his personal sensibility. It can transcend this limitation only if it is placed in the service of architecture, enhancing a larger whole such as a Gothic cathedral, but as soon as it detaches itself from this context, sculpture reverts to its primitive status. Fortunately, Baudelaire's theory was not taken at face value by either artists or patrons, but it does suggest the difficulty Romantic sculptors (or at least those who thought of themselves as part of the Romantic movement) had in establishing a self-image they could live with. Indeed, the unique virtue of sculptureits solid, spacefilling reality (its "idol" quality)was not congenial to the Romantic temperament. The rebellious and individualistic urges of Romanticism could find expression in rough, small-scale sketches but rarely survived the laborious process of translating the sketch into a permanent, finished monument.



Antonio Canova.


At the beginning of the Romantic era, we find an adaptation of the Neoclassical style to new ends by sculptors, led by Antonio Canova
(1757-1822). He was not only the greatest sculptor of his generation, he was the most famous artist of the Western world from the 1790s until long after his death. Both his work and his personality became a model for every sculptor during those years. Canova's meteoric rise is well attested by his numerous commissions. The Tomb of Maria Christina, archduchess of Austria, in the Church of the Augustinians in Vienna (fig. 915) is remarkable as much for its "timeless" beauty as for its gently melancholy sentiment. It was commissioned by her husband soon after her death in 1798, although its framework had been anticipated in a monument to Titian planned by Canova several years before. This ensemble, in contrast to the tombs of earlier times (such as fig. 616), does not include the real burial place. Moreover, the deceased appears only in a portrait medallion framed by a snake biting its own tail, a symbol of eternity, and sustained by two floating genii. Presumably, but not actually, the urn carried by the woman in the center contains her ashes. This is an ideal burial service performed by classical figures, mostly allegorical: a mourning winged genius on the right, and the group about to enter the tomb on the left, who represent the Three Ages of Man. The slow procession, directed away from the beholder, stands for "eternal remembrance." All references to Christianity are conspicuously absent.



915. Antonio Canova. Tomb of the Archduchess Maria Christina. 1798-1805. Marble, lifesize. Augustinerkirche, Vienna




915. Antonio Canova. Tomb of the Archduchess Maria Christina. (detail)


It is readily apparent that Canova must have known of Pigalle's tomb for the Marcchal de Saxe (fig. 831), which looks forward to it in so many respects. The differences are equally striking, however. Canova's design looks surprisingly like a very high relief, for most of the figures are seen in strict profile, so that they seem to hug the wall plane despite the deep space. Gestures are kept to a minimum, and the allegorical trappings that clutter Pigalle's monument have been swept away, so that nothing distracts us from the solemn ritual being acted out before us. It is this intense concentration that distinguishes Canova's classicism from the Rococo of Pigalle.

Canova's friends included Jacques-Louis David, who helped to spread his fame in France. In 1802, Canova was invited to Paris by Napoleon, who wanted his portrait done by the greatest sculptor of the age. With Napoleon's approval, he made a colossal nude figure in marble showing the conqueror as a victorious and peace-giving Mars (fig. 916). The head is an idealized but thoroughly recognizable portrait of Napoleon, while the figure is based on statues of ancient rulers in the guise of nude classical deities. The elevation of the emperor to a god marks a decisive shift away from the noble ideals of the Enlightenment that had given rise to Neoclassicism. The glorification of the hero as a noble example, seen in Houdon's statue of George Washington (fig. 867), is abandoned in favor of the Romantic cult of the individual. There is no longer any higher authorityneither religion, nor reason is invokedonly the imperative of Greek art remains unquestioned as a style divorced from content. Fittingly enough, the statue was given to the Duke of Wellington after he defeated Napoleon at Waterloo.





916. Antonio Canova. Napoleon. 1806. Marble, over-lifesize. Apsley House, London




Antonio Canova
. Napoleon as Mars the Peacemaker
1803-09
Bronze, height 325 cm
Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan




Antonio Canova
. Napoleon I
1811
Bronze
Palazzo Brera, Milan



Antonio Canova. Napoleon
 

Not to be outdone, Napoleon's sister Pauline Borghese permitted Canova to sculpt her as a reclining Venus (fig. 917). The statue is so obviously idealized as to still any gossip. We recognize it as a precursor, more classically proportioned, of Ingres' Odalisque (see fig. 885). She is equally typical of early Romanticism, which incorporated Rococo eroticism but in a less sensuous form. Strangely enough, Pauline Borghese seems less three-dimensional than the painting. She is designed like a "relief in the round," for front and back view only, and her very considerable charm radiates almost entirely from the fluid grace of her contours.



917. Antonio Canova. Pauline Borghese as Venus. 1808. Marble, lifesize. Galleria Borghese, Rome




917. Antonio Canova
. Pauline Borghese as Venus.




917. Antonio Canova
. Pauline Borghese as Venus. (details)
 

 


Antonio Canova

Antonio Canova, marchese d’Ischia, (born , Nov. 1, 1757, Possagno, Republic of Venice—died Oct. 13, 1822, Venice), Italian sculptor, one of the greatest exponents of Neoclassicism. Among his works are the tombs of popes Clement XIV (1783–87) and Clement XIII (1787–92) and statues of Napoleon and of his sister Princess Borghese reclining as Venus Victrix. He was created a marquis for his part in retrieving works of art from Paris after Napoleon’s defeat.

Canova, the son of a stonemason who died in 1761, was reared by his grandfather, also a stonemason. Under the protection of a Venetian senator, Canova, at the age of 11, went to work with the sculptor Giuseppe Bernardi (called Torretti), who lived at Pagnano (Asolo). In the same year (1768) Bernardi moved his studio from provincial Pagnano to Venice, and Canova went with him. The boy helped his master, executed a few humble commissions on his own, and, as was customary at the time, studied classical art and drew from the nude.

In 1775 Canova set up his own studio in Venice. In 1779 he sculpted Daedalus and Icarus which had been commissioned by Pisani, procurator of the Venetian republic; it was Canova’s first important work. Somewhat Rococo in style, the figures were considered so realistic that the sculptor was accused of making plaster casts from live models.

Canova was in Rome in 1779 and 1780, where he met the leading artists of the period, including the Scottish painter-dealer Gavin Hamilton, who directed Canova’s studies toward a more profound understanding of the antique. Canova visited Naples and the ancient archaeological sites of Herculaneum, Pompeii, and Paestum. He returned briefly to Venice, but in 1781 he was again in Rome, where he was to spend most of the rest of his life. There he became an active and influential figure in the artistic life of the city and was always willing to help young artists and find them patrons.

In 1783 Canova received an important commission for the tomb of Pope Clement XIV in the Roman church of SS. Apostoli. When it was displayed in 1787, crowds flocked to see it. That same year he was commissioned to execute a tomb in St. Peter’s to Pope Clement XIII. Completed in 1792, it shows a more developed understanding of the classical aesthetic of antiquity than his monument to Clement XIV. Subsequent tombs were increasingly Neoclassical and combined restraint with sentiment, in a manner akin to the work of Canova’s English contemporary, John Flaxman.

The French invasion of Rome in 1798 sent Canova northward. In Vienna he worked on a funerary monument to Maria Christina (1798–1805) in the Augustinerkirche. In 1802, at the Pope’s instigation, he accepted Napoleon’s invitation to go to Paris, where he became court sculptor and considerably influenced French art. He spent part of 1802 in Paris working on a bust of Napoleon, and in 1806 Joseph Bonaparte commissioned an equestrian statue of Napoleon.

In 1808 he finished one of his most famous works, in which he shows Napoleon’s sister, Pauline Borghese, reclining almost naked on a couch as Venus Victrix—a fusion of classical goddess and contemporary portrait. In 1811 he completed two colossal statues of Napoleon, in which the emperor is shown as a heroic classical nude. In the Napoleonic period he had also begun carving some of his most expressive and ambitious pieces, Perseus with Medusa’s Head (1801) and the Pugilists (1802).

Canova in 1805 was appointed inspector general of fine arts and antiquities of the papal state. In 1810 he was made president of the Accademia di S. Luca in Rome (a position he was to hold for life). He sculpted his well-known Three Graces from 1812 to 1816. After having visited Paris to arrange for the return of Italian art treasures plundered by the French, he went to London (1815) to give his opinion on the Elgin Marbles. The success of his mission in Paris led to the reward of the title of marquis of Ischia by the Pope. While in London, the Prince Regent, later George IV, commissioned a life-size group of Venus and Mars. Other late commissions included the Stuart monument in St. Peter’s (1819), the alteration and completion of the equestrian Napoleon into Charles III of Naples (1819), and a monument of George Washington (1820; destroyed by fire in 1830), idealized in Roman costume, erected at Raleigh, N.C., in 1821.

Canova was also a painter, but his paintings (mostly in the Gipsoteca Canoviana at Possagno) constitute a minor part of his works. They include a few portraits and re-creations of antique paintings discovered at Herculaneum. Canova was buried at Possagno in a temple designed by himself in imitation of the Pantheon in Rome.

Canova was as important in the development of the Neoclassical style as Jacques-Louis David in painting. Canova’s domination of European sculpture at the turn of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th is reflected in countless adulations in memoirs, poems, and newspapers. “Sublime,” “superb,” and “marvelous” are adjectives frequently found describing Canova’s work in his lifetime, although his reputation as a sculptor declined considerably during the following century.

David Irwin

Encyclopædia Britannica
 

 




Antonio Canova. Orpheus and Eurydice
1775-76
Stone
Museo Correr, Venice


Antonio Canova. Orpheus
1776
Stone
Museo Correr, Venice


Antonio Canova. Eurydice
1775
Stone
Museo Correr, Venice


Antonio Canova. Daedalus and Icarus
1777-79
Marble, 200 x 95 x 97 cm
Museo Correr, Venice

 
 

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